James Cephas Stokes Jr. went to be with his Lord and Savior Dec. 22, 2019, at the age of 89. He was residing in Seneca, S.C. He was born on Jan. 16, 1930, to James and Miriam Stokes in Lynchburg, S.C.
James served as a U.S. Marine from 1946 to 1949. After graduating from The Citadel in 1959, he went to work at Langley Research Center and was then recruited by NASA to work on the emerging manned space program. He began with a group building the World Wide Tracking Network and Computing System for Project Mercury. He went on to manage software development for Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and the Space Shuttle. At the height of the Apollo program he was responsible for overseeing all hardware and software development in the Mission Control Center in Houston as division chief of the Ground Data Systems Division. He retired from NASA in 1984 but continued working in the industry for many years with his own consulting company.
Jim was known as a man of honesty and integrity who was deeply committed to faith and family. His passions were gardening and teaching his Sunday school class. He has been described as smart, decisive, a good manager, a good friend and above all, simply a good man. He will be missed by many.
Jim is preceded in death by his wife Rita Smith Stokes (Houston) and survived by their daughter Kelly Stokes Sollinger (Columbus, Ohio) and granddaughters Mary Grace and Katherine. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Stokes Cottingham (Lynchburg, S.C.), his wife Sara Turner Stokes (Seneca, S.C), and their children Sally (James) Jenkins, Lisa (Alma) Stokes, James (Melony) Stokes. He is also survived by many beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be planned for the spring in Lynchburg, S.C. Memorial contributions may be made to Community Doulas of Waco, 4300 W. Waco Dr., Suite B2-228, Waco, TX 76710.